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Conversion to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 – Not That Difficult!

14 September 2017

There is a lot of misinformation about the new standards. Both ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 are an improvement on the old standards, they are far more business relevant and less intrusive.  

There is one year to go! For all companies with systems certified to ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004 there is only one year to go before you have to convert to the 2015 version of these standards – the cut-off point is 14th September 2018. This article is written for those businesses that have not yet looked at conversion to the new standards, or who have looked and are now panicking about what they are going to do.

What do you need to do?

If you have an existing ISO 9001:2008 or ISO 14001:2004 system you have until September 2018 to convert this system to the relevant 2015 standard and to get your Certification Body to certify you to the 2015 standard.

What happens if your system is not converted?

If you do not change your system to the new standard(s) then you will lose your certification in September 2018.

How difficult is it to convert?

There is a lot of misinformation about the new standards. In our view, both ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 are an improvement on the old standards in that they are trying to make the standards far more business relevant and less intrusive. Both standards are now written in the same format and both contain some new concepts, especially the principle of risk management, but you will probably find that these concepts were inherent in your thinking anyway – but hadn’t been fully thought through and written down.

Properly managed, this shouldn’t be a difficult process and indeed should be of benefit to any business that isn’t already actively monitoring or managing areas such as risk. And, if you have certification to both standards, the commonality between the 2015 versions will mean that converting two is not twice the effort of converting one system!

Although the new standards look radically different most of the elements of both ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 remain unchanged and therefore the conversion process should not mean a wholesale re-write of your system. In particular, the main component parts of ISO 9001, insofar as they relate to the day to day running of the business, effectively require little or no change.

A few tips

We have converted many systems to the new standards and my three top tips would be:

  • Keep calm – it really isn’t as difficult as you may think!

  • Use this as an opportunity to make things simple – get rid of anything you don’t use or need (for example you don’t NEED a Quality Manual, so if yours is serving no purpose then change it or get rid of it).

  • Put together a proper Risk Register. This is not mandatory but you will be surprised how useful it is if done properly, and it neatly addresses the requirements of both standards on risk.

When is the best time to convert?

Our advice as specialist ISO consultants is as follows: do not wait until the last minute as there may be some problems of both consultant and Certification Body availability and convert at your next re-certification or sooner if possible.

Obviously all systems and businesses are different, and the new standards do look daunting at first, but generally we do not see conversion as a major disruption or cost.

Do you need a specialist ISO consultant to assist you?

Of course that is entirely up to you. We do have the advantage of working with ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015 all the time and we have successfully implemented both new and converted systems to the new standards. Many organizations find that it is easier and ultimately cheaper to use a specialist and you will hopefully find that it is not the minefield you thought it was.
This article has been authored by Bruce Morrison at MQF Services for use on the NQA Certification Ltd website. MQF Services is listed as a trusted and valued consultancy organization on NQA’s Associate Consultant Register. To find out more please click here.